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Global Japan
MAY 16, 2017

It’s Time for Globally Minded Japanese to Seize Opportunities across Asia

By Toru Takahashi
iStock photo/metamorworks

A year ago, I predicted a revolution in the overseas offices of Japanese companies throughout Asia. I saw Japanese companies across Asia breaking away from the instructions and approval of their headquarters in Japan. I expected autonomous action based on employees’ own decisions and strategies – ideas only people on the ground in Asia could come up with.

Unfortunately, my prediction didn’t come true.

To break through the status quo and initiate a revolution, Japanese companies need bold, proactive people ready to face big challenges and implement big changes on the front lines of their markets.

While based in Singapore and Thailand, I observed three key trends:

     1. Passion 
     2. Collaboration
     3. Opportunity

Asian youths are passionate about contributing to their societies, improving their countries and Asia as a whole. They may have what is close to the Japanese concept of kokorozashi, translated as a personal mission to drive changes in societies. They understand the importance of collaboration, and as such as are collaborating together to maximize the effects of their individual efforts. They are keen to develop their own skills, not the least of which is learning new languages. They do not hesitate to meet new people to expand their network. They have dreams and ideas.

For them, everything is an opportunity.

Asia beyond Japan has many challenges, but it comes with incredible opportunities. Asia is the most diverse place in the world. I can’t wait to see more Japanese people living and working – fulfilling themselves – in such an environment. And the truth is, Asia needs them, too.

Here are three requests I would like to make to corporate leaders in Japan:

1. Visit your overseas offices in Asia. Participate in their business meetings and feel for yourself what it is like on the front lines.
2.  Talk with Asian youth. Learn about the collaboration between companies and students. Listen to their goals and what they are studying in order to achieve them.
3. Observe the collaboration. Industries, academia, and government are coming together like never before throughout Asia. Feel the dynamic heartbeat and let it inspire you to join in.